Saint John, New Brunswick
Saint John, 2001 population 69,661 (metropolitan population 122,678) is the largest city in the province of New Brunswick, Canada. It is situated in the south-central portion of the province, where the St. John River meets the Bay of Fundy.
Saint John skyline
The metro area includes the following communities: Grand Bay-Westfield, Greenwich, Hampton, Kingston, Lepeau, Musquash, Petersville, Quispamsis, Rothesay, Saint John, St. Martins, and Upham.
Saint John was first discovered by French explorer Samuel de Champlain on St. John The Baptist's Day in 1604. It was fortified by Charles LaTour in 1631, making Fort LaTour (as it was known then) the first French settlement in New Brunswick.
British troops seized Fort LaTour in 1758 and renamed it Fort Frederick. After it was destroyed during the American Revolution, Fort Howe was built in its place by United Empire Loyalists. The communities of Parrtown and Carleton were built around the fort. The two towns amalglamated to become the City of Saint John in 1785, making it Canada's first incorporated city.
During the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, Saint John's location made it a probable target for American attacks. Several military forts were constructed, many of which still stand today as tourist attractions.
Saint John became the province's foremost industrial city during the 19th century, fostering a shipbuilding trade that lasted until very recently, in addition to being a major forestry centre. Saint John looked poised to become one of Canada's major cities, but a fire in 1877 which destroyed a good portion of downtown sealed its fate, and it could be argued the city never fully recovered.
Nevertheless, Saint John remained an industrial powerhouse. Wealthy businessman K.C. Irving and his family built his empire around the city in the 20th century, headlined by a large oil company which bears his name. Irving holdings also include substantial forestry, shipbuilding, media and transportation assets. It could be said today that the Irving family maintains a stranglehold on the pulse of Saint John.
A major urban renewal project in the 1970s turned Saint John from a dreary, down-looking city to a vibrant one with lots of historical charm. Each day, the city's "uptown" (called such as it is located on a hill) is buzzing with activity, more so than in most other cities its size. All of southern New Brunswick has benefitted from Saint John's upswing, as tourists are now drawn to the scenic Fundy coast and Saint John River valley.
Saint John is a Canadian leader in heritage preservation. In 1982, a 20-block area of uptown was named Trinity Royal. All buildings that lie in this zone (and a few other zones around the city) are covered by heritage bylaws that control the look of the buildings, and other buildings proposed for construction. Saint John boasts one of the largest collections of commercial architecture in all of Canada. Some believe that heritage preservation puts restraints on development, and a current example of this is the proposed condominium building on Germain Street. Some say the building is too tall, while others say the city is desperate for development.
The city has been suffering from the effects of deindustrialization, suburbanization, an increasingly vacated downtown core and a shrinking population. Former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna did his best to embrace information technology, but his legacy has been call centres. At least 5,000 people in Saint John work in the call centre industry. This leaves many young people weary of staying because the lack of opportunities in the city.
There has been a recent upturn in the economy and a renewed vigor for making Saint John a better place. The Saint John Waterfront Development Partnership has completed some projects and is on its way to starting new ones. Real estate prices are rising in the south/central part of the city. Many new restaurants have been opening recenely, new developments are planned for the waterfront and the uptown is beginning to come back to life. Market Square recently announced that they wish to constuct another floor on top of their existing building because of demand. More and more students from around the world are welcomed into Saint John to study at the University of New Brunswick, and they number well over 1,000.
The high tides of the Bay of Fundy create a physical oddity in Saint John, known as the Reversing Falls. The water at high tide pushes the bay water up the Saint John River, making it look like the river is flowing away from the bay instead of towards it.
In 1964, the University of New Brunswick opened a campus in Saint John. While the main campus in Fredericton attracts many high school students, the campus in Saint John attracts international students. According to reports from many of these students, at high school university fairs around the world, UNBSJ always has the best booths and presentations out of all other universities that attend.
Quick Saint John facts:
- The mayor of Saint John is Norm McFarlane, first elected in 2004.
- "Saint" in Saint John is never abbreviated. Also, do not confuse Saint John with St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.
- The city has a booming cruise ship industry. An estimated 142,000 passengers visited in 2004.
Notable Saint John firsts:
- The first Boys and Girls Club of Canada was founded in Saint John c.1902. The second appeared in Montreal.
- Canada's first public museum, 1842. Originally known as the Gesner Museum, named after its Nova Scotian founder Abraham Gesner, the inventor of kerosene. The museum is now known as the New Brunswick Museum.
- Canada's first quarantine station, Partridge Island.
- The first charted bank in Canada, the Bank of New Brunswick.
Notable people born in Saint John include:
Although born in Russia, famed Hollywood producer Louis B. Mayer (of MGM fame) was raised in Saint John. The burial site of his mother can be found in the small Jewish cemetery on Westmorland Road.
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